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Overall Rating
4.16

Awesome47.37%
Worth A Look: 31.58%
Average: 15.79%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 5.26%

4 reviews, 14 user ratings


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Mad Hot Ballroom
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by U.J. Lessing

"Mad Smart Teaching"
4 stars

Mad Hot Ballroom lovingly captures two seemingly separate worlds brought together in an unusual competition. The filmmakers, Marilyn Agrelo and Amy Sewell, follow three schools contending in a ballroom competition run by New York Cityís public school system, and the result is a celebration of students and teachers that makes for charming entertainment.

Throughout the competition, we are exposed to many different types of students and teachers. P.S. 150 is a multi-cultural group from Tribeca. Taught by Russian teacher, Alex Tchassov, these students are precocious and confident with themselves. Watching their classroom teacher Allison Sheniakís emotional devotion to her students is a beautiful sight. She is not a teacher who rationally detaches from her students. Rather, she openly shares in their triumphs and tragedies.

P.S. 115 is a group from Washington Heights and consists primarily of poor Dominican immigrants. The students are passionate and struggle to meet the high expectations set by their demanding teacher, Yomaira Reynoso. She is affectionate with her students while being hard and honest. She doesnít hold any punches and really lets them know when they are letting her down. While other teachers long for smarter and more dedicated students, Reynoso mines those qualities out of her students. Watching her is truly watching a master teacher.

P.S. 112 from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, is a group of mostly Italian and Asian students. Of all the groups, these students were the most philosophical and funny. At 10 years of age, they have such wonderful schemas set in place about life and the world. Their dance teacher, Victoria Malvango, is almost playful in her instruction.

Students at all three schools participate in dances from all over the world. Itís fun and delightful to watch these little bodies flawlessly executing dances like the Fox Trot, Merengue, Rumba, Tango and Swing.

While the dance scenes were fun, I found them less exciting than watching the different teaching styles in action. At times, I wanted the moments capturing the dance competition to make way for the interviews and scenes of instruction.

Agrelo and Sewell capture their subjects conversing in many different places: the dance floor, the school library, a busy classroom, and in studentsí homes and neighborhoods. They do a nice job of removing themselves from these moments. The film admirably captures kidsí natural conversations with other kids.

Watching these teachers from different locations and with vastly different methodologies, it becomes clear that they are successful because they work hard and are emotionally a part of their studentsí lives. Itís truly a loving tribute.

This is exciting filmmaking. Watching teachers pushing their students towards greatness while devotedly nurturing their growth is stirring cinema, and hopefully Mad Hot Ballroom will inspire more people with passionate hearts to enter the teaching profession.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=11405&reviewer=396
originally posted: 06/13/05 02:16:41
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Slamdance Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Slamdance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Philadelphia Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Tribeca Film Festival For more in the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Deep Focus Film Fest For more in the 2005 Deep Focus Film Fest series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Seattle Film Festival For more in the 2005 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 CineVegas Film Festival For more in the 2005 CineVegas Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Sydney Film Festival For more in the 2005 Sydney Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Edinburgh Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Edinburgh Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Brisbane Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Brisbane Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/14/09 simon davis absolutely fascinating, saw it the day after "take the lead" and was riveted to my seat by 5 stars
6/26/07 Terri Bashaw I loved these kids and amazed at their ablities to learn new things in life! 5 stars
5/29/07 jameela manswell i love how elsamely ulerio danced she was the best and should be on the cover of the video 5 stars
4/12/06 Jessica such a boring and bad movie 1 stars
11/29/05 Irene Martynuk Found myself routing out loud for Wilson. 5 stars
9/29/05 Missdontlikeit I think it is a really bad movie n i think that u shuld get rid of it 1 stars
7/25/05 ClaranceTheCobra Absolutely hilarious, innocent little kids acting like grown ups -- nonstop laughs & smiles 5 stars
7/10/05 Jeanne Sweet, heartbreaking, magical, hopeful - the teachers should all be CLONED! The best! 5 stars
6/25/05 Suzz You laugh; you cry; you love the film and the kids 5 stars
6/20/05 Mirabella Robinson This film makes you want to dance! 5 stars
6/09/05 leidy jimenez i saw the movie and it was really great i love how scarlyn dances 5 stars
5/16/05 Danny Swwet adorable movie 5 stars
3/11/05 Frank Normile If you liked "spellbound" you're in for a wonderful treat of pure joy. 5 stars
1/30/05 Richard A Ottens Exceptional movie, makes you laugh and cry 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  13-May-2005 (PG)
  DVD: 18-Oct-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  29-Sep-2005




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